Day 1: USA
Depart on an overnight flight to Germany.
Day 2: Munich
Arrive at the airport in Munich. Transfer to the hotel & enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Simply relax, visit one of the city’s famous museums, or enjoy a delicious “Apfelstrudel” at a local cafe. As Munich is also known for being the home of Oktoberfest, beer connoisseurs may want to enjoy a pint at Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, perhaps one of the most famous beer halls worldwide.
Day 3: Munich
Following breakfast, you will get to experience Munich as home of the young Pope Benedict XVI. First, you will visit the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where Benedict XVI studied theology as a university student & later taught as a theology professor. Today you will also get to see some of Munich’s popular sites, such as the Opera House, Munich City Hall & Maximilian Street, considered a “golden mile” of upscale cultural & retail hot spots. The day’s tour will conclude with a trip to Nymphenburg Palace, or “Nymph’s Castle,” a 17th century Bavarian residence & home to many of Bavaria’s rulers.. The estate also features museums, a botanical garden, & beautiful frescoes honoring St. Mary Magdalene.
Day 4: Munich – Freising – Munich
Today, you will depart for Freising, Bavarian town north of Munich. It is here that Pope Benedict XVI as well as his brother, Georg Ratzinger, were ordained in a local Cathedral. This is also where Pope Benedict XVI would later be nominated by Pope Paul VI to become the Archbishop of Munich – Freising. Among other sites you will visit on today’s excursion is Benedictine Abbey in Weihenstephan, where monks still brew their own beer. You will return to Munich for the evening where you will enjoy dinner & your overnight.
Day 5: Altotting – Marktl – Passau – Deggendorf
Following breakfast, you will leave for Altotting, home to the Gnadenkappelle, or Chapel of Grace, & its shrine of the Virgin Mary. The shrine, which is perhaps most famous for its depiction of the Black Madonna, was a destination for many pilgrims, including Pope Benedict XVI & his family. Following the shrine, you will visit Marktl, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI. In his former home is a museum now dedicated to the life & work of the spiritual leader. Continue onto Passau where you will stop in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The Cathedral houses the world’s largest cathedral organ. In Passau, you will also tour the 13th century fortress atop St. George’s Mount, Veste Oberhaus. The castle is a former residence of the prince bishops of Bavaria. This evening dinner & your overnight will be in Deggendorf.
Day 6: Deggendorf – Regensburg – Prague
Following breakfast in Deggendorf, you will depart for Regensburg. Here, you will visit the University of Regensburg where Pope Benedict XVI taught theology from 1969 to 1977 & still retains his faculty chair. After the University tour, you will get to see more of Regensburg, a city that was founded nearly 2000 years ago. You will visit St. Peters Cathedral, the Old Town Hall, Thurns & Taxis Palace, a collection of former Benedictine monastery buildings purchased by the Thurns & Taxis royal family. From Regensburg, you will leave for Prague where you will have your dinner & overnight stay.
Day 7: Prague
Today you will be introduced to the city of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. First, see Castle Hill, a complex built of palaces, gardens, churches, galleries & the like. Atop the hill is Prague Castle, home to Kings of Bohemia & Holy Roman Emperors. In more modern times, it has been the residence of Presidents of the former Czechoslovakia & now, Czech Republic. You will have the chance to cross the famous Charles Bridge, a historic bridge which spans the Vltava River to connect Castle Hill with Old Town Prague. As you explore Prague, be sure to take note of the wide collection of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance to ultramodern. Your dinner & overnight will be in Prague.
Day 8: Prague – Brno – Krakow
After breakfast, you will depart for Krakow where Pope John Paul II held his seat as Archbishop. While en route, you will have the chance to experience more of the Czech Republic’s notable destinations. The first stop will be a walking tour in Brno, one of the Czech Republic’s largest cities. One of the many highlights of the tour is the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, known as one of the most significant pieces of architecture in South Moravia, a southwestern province of the Czech Republic. Among other attractions, you will see Cabbage Market Square, the Parnassus Fountain, & Namesti Svobody Square, or “Freedom Square,” a city center. You will continue onto Krakow where you will have dinner & your overnight.
Day 9: Krakow – Wieliczka – Krakow
In Krakow, you will begin today with a visit to St. Mary’s Basilica. This Franciscan church was rebuilt in the 14th century & sits adjacent to the city center, Main Market Square. Many know the church for its carved wooden altarpiece & its architecture has been replicated in churches of the Polish diaspora. This historic church now commemorates Pope John Paul II, with an iron sculpture on the church’s façade. In the district of Lagiewniki, you will visit the Sanctuary of Our Lord’s Mercy, also the site of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The Sanctuary is home to an iconic depiction of the Lord as he appeared to a Polish nun, Saint Faustina. Pope John Paul II consecrated the Basilica in 2002. After the Sanctuary, you continue to Wieliczka, a city known for having one of the oldest operating salt mines in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also one of Pope John Paul’s stops as he toured his native Poland. You will then return to Krakow for dinner & your overnight.
Day 10: Krakow – Auschwitz – Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – Wadowice – Krakow
Visit one of the most emotional landmarks in history this morning, the Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. See the camps where more than a million people of different nationalities died during the Holocaust. Afterward, enjoy a visit to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to Bernardine Monastery & St. Mary’s Church. Before returning to Krakow for the night, visit the John Paul II’s Family House Museum in Wadowice, which celebrates the life of the beloved former Pope.
Day 11: Krakow – Czestochowa – Warsaw
After breakfast in Krakow, you will head to Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. Today, see some of Warsaw’s major attractions such as the historic Old Town, St. John’s Cathedral & the Royal Castle, which is the official residence of Polish monarchs. Visit Victory Square, a city center & ceremonial square where Pope John Paul II led mass, a year after becoming Pope. Your afternoon is free to explore Warsaw on your own. Stroll along the Vistula River or for those history buffs, visit some of the many historic sites & monuments commemorating Warsaw’s long history of European wars & engagements.
Day 12: Warsaw
In the morning, explore Warsaw’s historic Old Town. Take a walk down Royal Way, which features several monuments, churches, & the Royal Castle. Visit the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral of St. John, significant for its role as a sheltering aid for Nazi rebels during the Warsaw Uprising. See the convent that the Apostle of Divine Mercy, Saint Faustina, joined in 1925. Spend the afternoon at leisure or attend Mass.
Day 13: Warsaw – USA
Transfer to the airport & board return flight home.